Not a Sesame Street Moment

Late yesterday afternoon, our area of Hampton Roads got pounded by a quickly moving storm that overtook us in a flash.  One minute it seemed like a perfectly lovely day, a moment later, angry black clouds moved in, and in just minutes torrents of rain sliced the silence, and the winds whipped up to 73 miles per hour, ripping trees apart and hurling huge branches several houses away.  Our house made it through with some damage to our front gutter but was otherwise unscathed.  The neighbors on either side of us were not so lucky.  A huge part of what had been a lovely and graceful river birch a few houses down had damaged the roof and completely torn down the gutter of the house on one side of us.  On the other, a shutter was torn off, maybe by the branch whizzing by like a missile, or perhaps it was just the wind.

When it was finally safe to venture out, neighbors emerged to survey the damage.  Much to my chagrin, the first words I heard from one neighbor were acrimonious words directed at the owners of the birch.  They were angry because they felt the tree was a menace and should have been taken down.  The owners of the birch had gone to great expense to have this tree pruned about a year or so ago and I thought the tree enriched the appearance of our side of the street.  It matters not what I think.  But it does matter what was said.

My husband and I started picking up pieces of the tree in our yard and moving them to a pile in the street.  “Leave them there,” commanded another neighbor.  “It was from their tree.  Let them pick up the mess.”  My husband and I looked at each other.  Was this guy for real?  This was no one’s fault; it was an act of nature. We weren’t in Texas anymore!  “It’s not a problem,” my husband said as he kept piling up the debris.  “It’s the neighborly thing to do.”

View from the river birch

The young neighbor whose tree it was came out and worked hard to remove the branches from his neighbors’ yards while those few neighbors around us stood and watched.  When all the limbs were heaped in a pile on the curb, this young neighbor said to my husband and me, “Thanks for all your help.”  I replied in a loud voice, “Of course.  That’s what good neighbors do.”

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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18 Responses to Not a Sesame Street Moment

  1. oldereyes says:

    You needed my Inner Curmudgeon there to handle your cranky neighbors!!

  2. AlaskaZen says:

    You’d be welcome in our neighborhood anytime. 🙂

  3. Oh, you would fit in around our place so well! It is honestly a first instinct around here pitch in and help those in need. Our local paper just received a letter to the editor, saying it was the “kindest town in South Dakota”. Thank you for showing people humanity in its finest.

  4. Val says:

    In England – particularly south east, that’s a common attitude. It’s horrible.

    • comingeast says:

      Really! I had no idea. I grew up in Connecticut and just moved here a couple of years ago after nearly 30 years in San Antonio, and neighbors always helped neighbors. We were very surprised and disgusted by their attitude.

  5. Margie says:

    You and your husband sound very polite… I would have ripped into the scrooges who were complaining about the tree!

  6. winsomebella says:

    Most fortunate that no one was hurt, of course, but nice that you demonstrated kindness. Sometimes when people are rude I try to be open to the idea that something inside of them is hurting or wrong. That doesn’t excuse their rudeness, but it does reduce the angry feelings I might feel.

    • comingeast says:

      If it had been just one person, I might have felt that way, but not one other neighbor pitched in. They stood around and made ugly faces and rude comments.

  7. Wow! I’m so sorry you had that experience; and I’m glad that everyone is physically okay! I’m pretty surprised that someone would expect to NOT pick up debris in their own yard (no matter where it came from), although people can be a little weird about these things, I know…. Still, I am pretty stunned that neighbors expected the tree owner to pick up branches from their yards without even pitching in — that young guy went way above the call of duty in my opinion! You’re lucky to have HIM as your neighbor!

  8. That is sad. Good thing there are still good people and good neighbors out there like you!

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